Missing Jet's Route Was Changed via Computer
As China launches land search
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2014 4:22 AM CDT
Updated Mar 18, 2014 7:47 AM CDT
China's rescue ships conduct an offshore search operation for MH 370.   (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhao Yingquan)

(Newser) – The first turn that took Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 off course was made through a computer system, not by manual operation of the plane's controls, reports the New York Times, citing "senior American officials" involved in the investigation. Officials say the "seven or eight keystroke" change was entered into the Flight Management System, located on a pedestal that sits between the pilot and co-pilot, leading investigators to take a harder look at the two men. It's not clear whether the route was changed before or after the plane took off. Experts say whoever made the change would have to be familiar with Boeing aircraft, and it is far-fetched to think a passenger could have programmed the new route. More:

  • China says it has begun searching a huge chunk of territory for any trace of the flight—but an investigation has turned up no sign that any of the 153 Chinese nationals on board had anything to do with the jet's disappearance. At a press conference in Malaysia today, China's ambassador told reporters that Beijing had "conducted meticulous investigation into all the [Chinese] passengers, and did not find any evidence for sabotage activity," the Guardian reports.
  • The Chinese announcement significantly shortens the list of possible suspects, and will probably dampen speculation that Uighur separatists were involved, CNN notes.
  • As the search continues along vast northern and southern arcs from the plane's last known location, the US says it has removed the Navy ship USS Kidd from the effort, reports the BBC. Officials say the ship, which has been searching the Andaman Sea, was taken off the search because "long-range patrol aircraft" are more suitable for searching the expanded search area.

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Mar 18, 2014 8:36 PM CDT
Via computer? That's how they did it in "Independence Day".
Mar 18, 2014 1:49 PM CDT
I suppose anything is up for grabs as far as what happened. How about it landed and their ransoming off the jet and the passengers. How many millions could you get ? Problem is, what happens when the passengers show up at home and everyone is wondering where they came from. The airline industry doesn't want it revealed it was ransomed off since everyone will be trying for instant wealth. Geez I hope I didn't give anyone some ideas. Heck it's pretty easy if you can find an airstrip and you can fly one of these. Just shut off all the beacons and your home free.
Mar 18, 2014 11:29 AM CDT
Pretty sure the "experts" already knew of this 'route change' via computer from the very first, if not next day of the hi-jack. And please, media, let's call it what it is...a Hi-jack. and quit playing around with the "mystery" angle.